Little Bits of History

May 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2017

1783: A Great Jubilee Day is celebrated. The American Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783 with America gaining independence from Great Britain. The war officially ended on September 3, 1783 with the signing of the Peace of Paris treaty. But hostilities had ended prior to the actual treaty’s creation. It was ratified on May 12, 1784 but by then, the United States of America was already well under way. The war had been long and brutal with tens of thousands dying on both sides. America’s allies also lost thousands of thousands, as did the associates of Great Britain. Even before the treaty, there was cause for jubilation, celebration, and partying. On this day, all that and more happened at A Great Jubilee Day.

Held in North Stratford (now Trumbull, Connecticut), the day commemorated the end to the fighting. It included food, of course, but also prayer, speeches, toasts, and two companies of the North Stratford militia performing maneuvers. Cannons were fired in this first documented celebration of the end of the War for Independence. It would later be called Decoration Day and today is known as Memorial Day. Even now, Americans celebrate their freedom with food, parades, and speeches. On this day there were many toasts to the many who suffered, sacrificed, and honorably held fast during the long war. The first toast was for Congress and the second was for General Washington. There were 14 toasts given and after each, the cannon was fired.

The area of Connecticut was settled by the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation prior to the colonization by the English during the Great Migration of the 1630s. Stratford, Connecticut grew and some farmers northwest of the town petitioned to become separate and eventually were given permission to incorporate Unity. They merged with Long Hill and became North Stratford in 1744. Connecticut had the distinction of having the only colonial governor to support the American cause during the Revolutionary War. That governor was Jonathan Trumbull. The town eventually was successful in their petition to name their town after him.

The Connecticut general assembly appointed Robert Hawley, a captain in the North Stratford Train Band of the 4th regiment of the Connecticut Colony militia to provide supplies to the US Army. A special meeting was held on November 10, 1777 in which his task was laid out. He began collecting supplies and March 12, 1778 they were able to make a considerable donation to the neighboring state. The cost of delivering the more than 200 pounds of provisions was sponsored by Mr. Stephen Middlebrook and came to £7 s3 p10. The supplies were essential to health and well being of the soldiers under General Washington stationed at Valley Forge.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. – George Washington

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. – Albert Einstein

Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. – Ronald Reagan

To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag. – Pauline Hanson

Tagged with: ,


Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2015
24 Hours of Le Mans poster for 1923

24 Hours of Le Mans poster for 1923

May 26, 1923: A new endurance race hits the streets of France. The 24 Hours of Le Mans began on this date and after a 24 hour race was run, it would take another two years of racing to come up with a declared winner based on the greatest number of miles traveled during the entire three year run. The Rudge-Whitworth Cup would go to the team with the most miles, but not until 1925. Very few teams had selected names and drivers worked in pairs. Most of the teams came from France, but a few other countries were represented – Switzerland, Germany, and Great Britain. There were 33 teams at the start of the race, three of them unable to finish. André Lagache and France René Léonard, driving a Chenard Et Walker Sport with a 3.0 L I4 engine made 128 laps.

The first race was run through public roads. The idea of not awarding a winner each years was soon abandoned and a winner was declared each year as racers showed up to test themselves and their cars. It has become one of the most prestigious races and is sometimes called the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency. Teams balance speed and the cars’ ability to last 24 hours of punishing racing. Drivers now race in teams of three and may switch out after two hours while the car is making a pit stop. Consumables must be wisely managed and fuel, tires, and brakes need to be carefully maintained. Drivers eat and rest while teammates take the wheel.

The race was organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and today runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe which is made up of some public roads and a specialized racing circuit. With its current configuration, it covers 8.47 miles and is one of the longest racing circuits in the world. The race stadium has a capacity to seat 100,000. With long straightaways, up to 85% of the race is run at full throttle causing wear and tear on the engine and drive train as well as on the drivers themselves. When coming into a curve or turn, cars much slow from over 200 mph to around 65 mph which also places wear and tear on the brakes. The highest speed on the course was reached in 1988 with roger Dorchy driving a Peugeot 2.8L V6 turbo charged car. He reached a goal of over 400 km/h when he hit 405 km/h or 251.1 mph. Unfortunately, the car lasted only a few more laps before an overheated engine caused it to quit.

Today, the race is held in June, beginning at mid-afternoon and finishing the next day. It is often hot and cars are not built for ride or comfort, but for speed and handling. Weather conditions are immaterial and the race is often run in the rain. In the 2010s, the drivers have made distances over 5,000 km (3,110 mi) and the longest drive was 5,410 km or 3,360 miles (over six times the Indianapolis 500 and 18 times longer that a Formula One Grand Prix). Tom Kristensen has been the driver to win the most times (9) and Joest Racing is the team with the most wins (13). Porsche has had the most wins with 16. Tom is a Danish driver who won with the Joest team while driving a Porsche. The German Audi Sport Team Joest team won in 2014 with 379 laps. The race for 2015 will be held on June 13-14 and will be the 83rd running of Le Mans.

There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games. – Ernest Hemingway

In racing, the fastest person wins. It is very simple. – Paul Newman

Racing takes everything you’ve got — intellectually, emotionally, physically — and then you have to find about ten percent more and use that too. – Janet Guthrie

Auto racing is boring except when a car is going at least 172 miles per hour upside down. – Dave Barry

Also on this day: Who Was That? – In 1828, a strange teenager was found on the streets.
Complex Napoleon – In 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy.
Sailing to Oblivion – In 1854, Khufu or Cheops’ ship was discovered.
Alse Young – In 1647, Alse was hung as a witch.
From Property to Human – In 1857, Dred Scott was freed.

From Property to Human

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2014
Dred Scott

Dred Scott

May 26, 1857: Dred Scott becomes a free man. Dred (Sam) Scott was born into slavery around 1799 in Southampton County, Virginia. He belonged to the Peter Blow family. He had an older brother named Dred, and when he died, Sam assumed the name in his honor. The Blow family moved to Huntsville, Alabama and were unsuccessful in farming endeavors there. In 1830, they moved to St. Louis, Missouri and sold Dred to John Emerson, a doctor serving with the US Army. In 1836, Dred met Harriet Robison, a teenaged slave belonging to Major Lawrence Taliaferro who was from Virginia. They were permitted to marry and Taliaferro transferred ownership of Harriet to Emerson. Emerson himself married and both new families moved frequently and returned to Missouri where in 1842 Emerson left the army.

They moved to the Iowa Territory in 1843 and Emerson died, leaving his estate to his wife, Irene. She now owned the Scotts and she leased them out as hired slaves for the next three years. In 1846, Scott attempted to purchase his family from Irene but she refused to sell. Since he couldn’t buy his freedom, he filed suit in St. Louis Circuit Court. Scott v Emerson was heard in the federal-state courthouse in St. Louis in 1847 and the judgment went to Emerson but the evidence was deemed hearsay and so the judge called for a retrial. In 1850, a Missouri jury found that Scott and his family should be freed as they were illegally held as slaves during their extended residence in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was illegal.

Because women weren’t of much better standing that slaves, it was found that when Emerson died, his property should have been transferred to his wife’s brother, John Sanford, a resident of New York. So Scott’s lawyers brought a case in New York claiming diverse citizenship and the case was filed in federal court. Scott again lost and so the case was brought to the US Supreme Court in Dred Scott v Sandford (typo by a clerk) and the high court found that any one of African descent, whether slave or free, was not a citizen of the US, according to the Constitution. It also found the Ordinance of 1787 did not apply to non-whites. The Act of 1820 (the Missouri Compromise) was also not valid. In short, African-Americans had no claim to freedom or citizenship.

Scott was returned to Irene whose brother had been committed to an insane asylum in the interim. In 1850, Irene had remarried Calvin Chaffee, an abolitionist and member of the US Congress. He was unaware until shortly before the marriage, that his wife owned the most famous slave in the country. He persuaded his wife to return the Scott family to the Blow family, the original owners but they were now living in Missouri and had becomes opponents of slavery. So only three months after the Supreme Court ruling, Henry Blow freed Scott, his wife, and their two daughters. Only 17 months later, Scott died of tuberculosis in St. Louis where he had supported his family working as a porter.

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. – Abraham Lincoln

Elimination of illiteracy is as serious an issue to our history as the abolition of slavery. – Maya Angelou

I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery. – George Washington

Racism, xenophobia and unfair discrimination have spawned slavery, when human beings have bought and sold and owned and branded fellow human beings as if they were so many beasts of burden. – Desmond Tutu

Also on this day: Who Was That? – In 1828 a strange teenager is found on the streets.
Complex Napoleon – In 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy.
Sailing to Oblivion – In 1854, Khufu or Cheops’ ship was discovered.
Alse Young – In 1647, Alse was hung as a witch.

Complex Napoleon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2013
Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

May 26, 1805: Napoleon “the Little Corporal” Bonaparte is crowned King of Italy. Bonaparte took command of the French “Army of Italy” in 1796. He rid Lombardi of her Austrian rulers and then took over two Papal States. Ignoring orders, he marched on Rome and took the Pope prisoner. His first Italian assault is often deemed to be his greatest campaign. His army captured 160,000 prisoners, 2,000 cannons and 170 flags.

In May 1798, Napoleon proposed that Egypt be brought under French control to undermine British access to India. Along with military and political staff, Bonaparte included 167 scientists in his expedition confirming his devotion to the principles of the Enlightenment. While there were many discoveries were made, including the Rosetta Stone, but the Egyptian campaign was not truly successful.

Bonaparte returned to France and continued to advance and win battles. He and others orchestrated a coup d’état and overthrew the constitutional government. Bonaparte, ever the brilliant strategist, maneuvered himself into the position of First Consul. He continued to broker agreements and tried to reconcile with the Catholic Church. He also worked to codify criminal and commercial law.

By 1800, Napoleon returned to Italy and evicted the Austrians again – they had returned while Bonaparte was in Egypt. All of his campaigns were straining the coffers and to help finance his increased costs, he sold off property in the Americas in 1803. The US made the Louisiana Purchase for only three cents per acre. This not only improved Bonaparte’s economic position, but also gave him one less front to defend. In 1804 he was declared Emperor in Paris. Continuing to amass titles, he was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, an ancient royal insignia of Europe. The coronation took place in the Duomo di Milano cathedral in Milan, Italy. Napoleon remained King of Italy until 1814.

“I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.”

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.”

“Religion is what keeps the poor man from murdering the rich.”

“If you start to take Vienna – take Vienna.”

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” – all from Napoleon Bonaparte

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Rosetta Stone was carved in 196 BC on the orders of King Ptolemy V. It is a granodiorite stele (a rock slab or pillar similar to granite) and gives the proclamation in three scripts. The upper text is written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion is Demotic script, and the lowest portion is written in ancient Greek. Since the text is essentially the same between the three languages, this stone provided a way to understand the ancient hieroglyphs. What we have in our possession is just part of the original stele. No other pieces have ever been located. The hieroglyphs suffered the most damage and only the last fourteen lines can be seen and they are only partially extant. Because it was key to translating the ancient script, the term has become common to idiomatically convey the notion of a key to translate from an unknown script to a known language.

Also on this day Who Was That? – In 1828 a strange teenager is found on the streets.
Sailing to Oblivion – In 1854, Khufu or Cheops’ ship was discovered.
Alse Young – In 1647, Alse was hung as a witch.

Alse Young

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2012

Woodcut of witch trials

May 26, 1647: Alse Young (also cited as Achsah Young or Alice Young) is executed by hanging. She was about 47 years old at the time of her execution. She is believed to have been the wife of John Young, a man with some property to inherit. She had a daughter, but no son, and would have been heir to her husband’s estate. This was apparently enough to make women susceptible to the charge of witchcraft. There is no record remaining about the basis of the charge. There is some speculation of a communicable disease running through the small town of Windsor, Connecticut. Witchcraft became a capital offense in Connecticut in 1642.

The number of witches executed over the centuries is not clearly known. The best guess is between 50,000 and 100,000. Most of these executions took place between 1550 and 1650 although the crime was punished from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Some of the witches were Pagans, but many were not. Most victims were punished by local or community courts and were not tried by an established Church. While executions took place throughout Europe and her colonial properties, there were wide variances in the number of executions. Ireland had only four while most of the deaths occurred in German lands of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Colonial America frenzy culminated in the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692. Between June and September of that year, nineteen men and women were convicted of witchcraft and hanged at Gallows Hill. Another older man was pressed to death after he refused to submit to a trial. Hundreds more were accused of the crime with many of them jailed for months without trials. The hysteria passed and the killings stopped.

Most of those accused of witchcraft over the centuries have been women. Often, after epidemics or natural disasters, a cause was sought out. There needed to be someone to blame. Neither the Catholic nor Protestant churches targeted witches as the cause behind any disasters. Outlying lands where the Catholic Church was the weakest were the location for the most virulent witch hunts, according to Nachman Ben-Yehuda. While being a woman didn’t automatically mean you were accused of witchcraft, about three-fourths of those accused were women. Most confessions came after horrific torture. Sadly, witch hunts still continue on a limited basis in some Third World countries.

All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman. … What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil nature, painted with fair colours. – from The Hammer of Witches

Its [The Hammer of Witches] enormous influence was practically guaranteed, owing not only to its authoritative appearance but also to its extremely wide distribution. – Nachman Ben-Yehuda

The medieval conception of women shares much with the corresponding medieval conception of Jews. – Steven Katz

After the terrible devastation caused by the Black Death [bubonic plague] (1347-1349), these rumors increased in intensity and focused primarily on witches and ‘plague-spreaders.’ – Jenny Gibbons

Also on this day:

Who Was That? – In 1828 a strange teenager is found on the streets.
Complex Napoleon – In 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy.
Sailing to Oblivion – In 1854, Khufu or Cheops’ ship was discovered.

Sailing to Oblivion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2011

Model of Khufu's solar barque, from the boat museum at the base of the Great Pyramid. (photo by WLU)

May 26, 1954: A ship is discovered in a pit near the Great Pyramid of Giza. The full-size ship was constructed for Pharaoh Khufu or Cheops. It was placed here in order to help transport the Pharaoh’s soul to heaven and so was built from sacred materials. The sycamore and cedar wood ship was sealed in a pit next to the pyramid used to house the great ruler after his death. The ship was found by Kamal el-Malakh, the director of archaeological work for Giza and lower Egypt. Amazingly, it had not been plundered by tomb robbers during the 4,600 years since it had been placed.

The well-preserved vessel was 143 feet long and 19.5 feet wide. It had a flat bottom without an actual keel. A rudder sweep along with a dozen oars and coils of linen rope were in place aboard ship, ready to sail. The ship was built using unpegged tenons and the planks and frame were held together using Halfah grass. The boat’s 1,224 components were transported out and needed to be rebuilt into the magnificent barge once again. The reconstructed ship used modern rope to lash it together and 95% of the wood are the original timbers used for the Pharaoh.

The ship is known as a “solar barge” or a ritual vessel used at the time to carry the king after his resurrection. He would be joined by the sun god, Ra, as they traveled across the heavens. This particular ship shows some evidence of having seen some time in actual water and may have been used to carry Khufu’s embalmed body from Memphis to Giza. It is also possible the Pharaoh could have used it as a “pilgrimage ship” to visit revered sites and so it was blessed and buried with him to use in the afterlife.

The rebuilt ship is housed in a museum built over the pit where it was discovered. The Khufu Boat Museum is alongside the Great Pyramid, the oldest and the largest of the Pyramids of Giza. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence. It is believed to have taken 20 years to build and was completed in 2560 BC. It remained the tallest manmade structure for over 3,800 years until it was surpassed by the Lincoln Cathedral in England. There are three known chambers inside the pyramid with the lowest one cut into the bedrock. There are several theories about how the pyramids were built, but we have no definitive answer.

“Cheops’ Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.” – Robert A. Heinlein

“On the pyramid it is declared in Egyptian writing how much was spent on radishes and onions and leeks for the workmen, and if I rightly remember that which the interpreter said in reading to me this inscription, a sum of one thousand six hundred talents of silver was spent.” – The Greek historian Herodotus likely being duped by a tour guide, 5th century BC

“They say the Pharaohs built the pyramids Do you think one Pharaoh dropped one bead of sweat? We built the pyramids for the Pharaohs and we’re building for them yet.” – Anna Louise Strong

“Far from being a curse, it might be lucky to disturb a pharaoh’s tomb. These people beat the life span expectation for those days by about a year.” – James Randi

Also on this day:
Who Was That? – In 1828 a strange teenager is found on the streets.
Complex Napoleon – In 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy.

Tagged with: ,

Who Was That?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2010

Contemporary painting of Kaspar Hauser

May 26, 1828: A teenager is found on the streets of Nuremberg, Germany. He was wearing peasant clothing and could barely speak. He was only able to say, “I want to be a rider like my father” and the word “horse.” Every question was answered with “Don’t know.” He was carrying a letter addressed to a captain of the cavalry which asked for the captain to take in the boy or hang him. The letter also claimed the boy was born on April 30, 1812 – making him 16 years old at the time of his appearance. He could write his name as Kasper Hauser.

He was taken to a jail where a kind jailer began to help. He eventually learned to speak and told his story. He had been imprisoned in a cell for most of his life. The cell was about 6.5 x 3.5 x 5 feet and supplied with only a straw mat and a wooden horse to play with. There was speculation the child was actually the son of the Grand Duke of Baden and relatives, hungry for power, had taken the male heir in order to secure lineage for themselves. DNA testing done in 2002 shows a 95% match to present day descendants of the Prince of Baden.

The boy never saw his captors and was drugged from time to time to have his hair cut and clothes changed. He did not know how he came to be found in the streets of Nuremberg. There was an unsuccessful attempt made on his life and the boy was moved to what was considered to be a more secure place. He was told to meet someone in a wooded area so he could learn more about his family. He was stabbed in the chest, puncturing a lung. He made it home, but died three days later. He would not name his assailant, but a note found in the woods said he would have recognized the person he had met.

He was found shrouded in mystery and died the same way at the age of 21.

“The thousand mysteries around us would not trouble but interest us, if only we had cheerful, healthy hearts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” – Bible

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” – Anais Nin

“Maybe it’s other people’s reactions to us that makes us who we are. ” – Fox Mulder, David Duchovney’s character on The X-Files

Also on this date:
In 1805,
Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned king of Italy.
In 1958,
Khufu‘s solar barge was discovered.